Sassy Image won last year's Humana Distaff by three lengths.

Sassy Image won last year's Humana Distaff by three lengths.

Anne M. Eberhardt

Sassy Image Looks for Humana Distaff Repeat

Top sprinter faces three other grade I winners in comeback race for Dale Romans.

Sassy Image will attempt to become the first repeat winner of the $300,000 Humana Distaff (gr. I) when she faces a strong lineup in the 26th renewal of the seven-furlong test, part of the Kentucky Derby undercard at Churchill Downs May 5.

Jerry Romans’ Sassy Image is one of four grade I winners in the field of nine older fillies and mares, along with female sprint champion Musical Romance, Groupie Doll, and Switch. The Humana Distaff is the ninth race on the Churchill program with a 3:49 p.m. EDT post.

A 5-year-old trained by Dale Romans, Sassy Image has not raced since a nightmarish trip in the Ballerina Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga Race Course last August. She later sustained a bone chip in a hind ankle while working out for the Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (gr. I) Oct. 8.

Robby Albarado has the call on Sassy Image, who drew post 3. The chestnut mare has won five of her six starts at Churchill.

Sassy Image has posted five works at Churchill Downs since March 31, each at five furlongs, after shipping in from Palm Meadows Training Center. In her most recent drill, she breezed in :59 3/5, fastest of 53 at the distance.

She won last year's Humana Distaff handily by three lengths over over Hilda's Passion. Sassy Image followed that effort with victories in the Winning Colors (gr. III) at Churchill and in the Princess Rooney Handicap (gr. I) at Calder Casino & Racecourse. In the Ballerina, however, she leapt at the break and bore out badly on the first turn and wound up finishing last.

Following Sassy Image's injury, 5-year-old Musical Romance stepped into the void by winning the BC Filly & Mare Sprint at 20-1. She carted home an Eclipse Award as the nation's top female sprinter for co-owner and trainer Bill Kaplan and Pinnacle Racing Stables. Musical Romance has won 10 of 36 lifetime starts while earning more than $1.3 million

The daughter of Concorde's Tune has raced three times in 2012, winning the Inside Information (gr. II) over seven furlongs at Gulfstream Park March 17. In her most recent start, the Vinery Madison Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland April 12 on Polytrack, she finished fourth as the favorite, 7 1/2 lengths behind Groupie Doll. Regular rider Juan Leyva will be aboard.

Groupie Doll broke through with her first grade I victory in the Madison, which she won by three lengths with a big stretch kick while wide through the lane. The 4-year-old Bowman's Band filly is owned and bred by Fred Bradley along with his son, Buff, who also trains the chestnut. Carl Hurst and Brent Burns are also co-owners.

Rajiv Maragh has the return call on Groupie Doll, who has won five of 12 lifetime starts while finishing in the money 10 times.

Lee Searing's Switch has not raced since the BC Filly & Mare Sprint, in which she was second, 1 1/4 lengths behind Musical Romance. She had an extremely difficult trip that day, steadying in traffic while five wide on the turn before closing with interest on the far outside. Switch was also second in the 2011 BC Filly & Mare & Sprint, accounting for her only two starts over the Churchill main track.

Trained by John Sadler, the 5-year-old daughter of Quiet American won back-to-back grade I events at Santa Anita Park in 2010-11 when taking the La Brea and Santa Monica, both at seven furlongs. Switch has finished in the money in 17 of her 18 lifetime starts with five victories, good for earnings of more than $1.2 million.

Also in the field is Craig B. Singer's Salty Strike, winner of Churchill's Dogwood Stakes (gr. III) last June for trainer Ken McPeek.

Hot Summer, a close second to Musical Romance in the Inside Information, and Magical Feeling, winner of the Sugar Maple Stakes at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races April 14, help make this a highly competitive affair. Last-out allowance winners Fantasy of Flight and Mildly Offensive complete the lineup.

$300,000 Humana Distaff Stakes (gr. I, Race 9, 3:49 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 4 & Up, 7 Furlongs
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer, ML Odds
1. Magical Feeling (KY), R Alvarado Jr., 120, A Iwinski, 30/1
2. Fantasy of Flight (KY), J R Velazquez, 118, J P Terranova II, 30/1
3. Sassy Image (KY), R Albarado, 118, D L Romans, 5/2
4. Salty Strike (KY), J R Leparoux, 118, K G McPeek, 15/1
5. Mildly Offensive (KY), J Rosario, 118, C Gaines, 20/1
6. Groupie Doll (KY), R Maragh, 123, W Bradley, 5/2
7. Switch (KY), M E Smith, 118, J W Sadler, 2/1
8. Musical Romance (FL), J C Leyva, 123, W A Kaplan, 4/1
9. Hot Summer (VA), R Bejarano, 118, D Fawkes, 20/1